40 Seconds of Silence

“They say my system is overloaded” – Ariana Grande

Mark my words – 2019 will be a year marked by unfettered, unending division. Politically. Publicly. Whatever such schisms develop into – we can only guess. In reaction, I pursued this week’s topic with a sense of subversion, as it wouldn’t do to pound the reader into submission with the burden of Brexit this soon into January. Setting down to compress the fortnight past, there was but one theme at the forefront of my mind – community. I like to think such a concept gives us a sense of purpose to us all as it gives our lives flavour. Now, I can’t speak for the off-grid folks (although my asocial tendencies mean I do sympathise with them) but when I was listening to Philosophise This! on Monday, I got to thinking. Does rejecting community mean we are eroding our human nature? Think on it. Think on prisoners subjected to solitary confinement. Think of the escalating insanity as they grow detached. Of course, it’s a matter of perspective and even with tacit separation we’re never fully apart from what surrounds us. Example – I reject social bonds with other students, I’m still part of a university. You betray the confines of conventional life and leave everything you know behind, you’re still part of planet Earth! We feel validated when we come together so in a world fraught with division – Trump’s government shutdown and our MPs tearing themselves apart – community could be quite the remedy to saving who we are.

4 days into the new year and I was heading down to Greenwich for an assessment day with Teach First. Stellar company, or so I was told. Nonetheless, the process proved a challenge even with the sterile ‘Be Yourself!’ advice plastered around such a faceless office. I took the advice personally – these chaps don’t know me, I’m not much of a talker and I’m pretty intimidated. These things considered, I cared little for mundane questioning from the other candidates. “So, where are you from?” “Why do you care?” – that pretty much set the tone. While on the way home I thought myself too hostile, I also thought the day provided effective reflections. Are community and individuality mutually exclusive? If so, must we sacrifice one to exercise the other? I am simply myself, yet that meant indifference to others while passing up the chance to be part of something. Don’t let my tone fool you – I live for solitude and were it the future I’d do the same again. However, the day proved that if a person is a few pages past another in a book entitled ‘What We’re Looking For’, the sacrifice is necessary.

I like to think that community didn’t work as I wasn’t tolerated, even though there was no act put on. Besides, if we’re looking for an example where both sides are to blame then Brexit is the best of it – the EU’s a community after all. Expecting an answer that will please everyone belies simple dead weight. Performing anything for the sake of progression also seems equally reviled as John Bercow (Speaker of the House of Commons, if you’re unaware) has discovered. The man allowed a vote on the Grieve Amendment this past Wednesday, being labelled a complete and utter disgrace for disregarding the constitution of Parliament. While I don’t think the man should abuse his position, progress is needed and an inability to meet concessions between parliament and government hampers the advancement we so desperately need.

As much as I want people to come together, our individuality need not be in the firing line. The reason why I titled this article as such is because it really only takes two thirds of a minute to change a mind, to change the facts and keep them intact. My friends call me Sherlock, but at least I have them. To find the equilibrium between individuality and acceptance, communication and unity – that’s community.

 

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